I saw this powerful PSA on Facebook the other day:
It’s true, children are sponges. Whatever their parents (& peers) say and do, they absorb it and it shapes how they act. And those models stay there for a long time.
I am not a parent, and so I have no business dispensing parenting advice. So I won’t. But I do want to say to all you adults, that the way you communicate is a product of how you were communicated with as a child. Not only how your parents talked to you, but also how your peers and friends talked to you. Your communication style is a product of the media you consumed growing up, what you saw as cool and admirable. You didn’t learn what to think and how to behave in a vacuum.
The way you and I were raised, the kind of environment we grew up in shapes how we act in the world today. I was raised to “go for my dreams” and so I live with this belief that the work I do in the world needs to be personally fulfilling, and I avoid work that I label as “drudgery”. Many people are raised to “make sure there’s food on the table” and so they live with this belief that getting any work is good work, and that whether it is fulfilling or not, you have to do whatever you need to do to make a paycheck.
It’s not about one kind of culture and upbringing being better or worse. In fact seeing one as better than another is also a product of the culture that surrounds you. So it’s not about judging some people as having a “better” or “worse” upbringing, it is about learning what has shaped you. It’s about uncovering how the culture you grew up in shapes your behavior today, so you can decide how you actually want to act. And it is about deciding if what you have currently surrounded yourself with is shaping you into the person you want to be.
Because this blog post isn’t just about what happened to you growing up, it’s also about what kinds of things you surround yourself with right now. This is why support groups are helpful for people struggling with addictions. Support groups take people out of the environment where the drug use is the norm, and put them in an environment where the norm is to try to be healthy.
If you’re wondering why you feel sad, cynical, and angry take time to examine what is going on around you. Are you working at a job whose environment is poisonous? Do you watch media that paints a bleak picture of the world? Is the music you listen to full of despair? Do your friends communicate with honesty & compassion, or with sarcasm and disingenuously?
It’s not enough to decide that you want to start acting differently. It’s not even enough to uncover what shaped you growing up, though that is an essential first step. If you want to make a change in yourself, you have to change what surrounds you.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.